Hiking boots are the ultimate purchase for anyone who regularly spends a lot of time walking outdoors, whether that’s meandering through lush forests on a lazy Sunday afternoon or hitting your nearest mountain trail for a weekend adventure.
To do any of this without running the risk of blisters, raw heels or crushed toes, it’s important to buy the best hiking boots that you can afford – and ones that match the type of hiking you’ll mostly be doing on the regular.
While we love a tech-laden technical hiking boot for certain scenarios, you might not need that much tech if you just want boots to keep your feet dry and protected when walking the dog on country trails. In that case, one of the more budget friendly hikers will see you right. This will save you cash and a whole heap of research time.
There are also different types of hiking boots for different terrains, and choosing the right pair for challenging conditions can boost your enjoyment of the outdoors and bolster your confidence on the trail. That's why we've considered a range of styles, features and tech when rounding up our picks for the best hiking boots.
The best hiking boots: our expert pick
- Choosing the best hiking boots for every condition is pretty much impossible due to the sheer range of options to choose from, and depending upon how niche you want to get when drilling down into the sub-genres of hiking boots. However, the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX is a tried-and-tested hiking boot capable of seeing you through a range of hiking, backpacking and trekking scenarios. It really is a do-all outdoors boot.
- Salomon's hiking boot is purpose built for boosting stability and comfort on longer hikes and backpacking excursions, and has a raft of features and tech to ensure you can go for longer without experiencing discomfort. The Quest 4D 3 GTX is also waterproof and breathable, so you'll be fine if the heavens open.
Why do you need specific boots for hiking?
Hiking boots, as a term, is a broad church, but the main reasons you’ll need some for the rough stuff are their blend of protection, grip and stiffness. Standard street boots – Doctor Martens, for example – might offer some ankle support by lacing up high, but a lack of ankle padding will cut you to ribbons on a long trek.
Most modern hiking boots include a waterproof membrane, which will be useful when you head off the beaten track. In addition, hiking and mountain boots often incorporate a raised ‘rand’, a rubber buffer over the leather of the boot nearest the sole, which protects the boot from sharp stone cuts when walking across scree.
Hiking boot soles will also be much stiffer than street shoes/boots to shrug off rough surfaces, incorporating aggressive tread for better grip on wet grass, moss or mud, and often cleverly-placed sticky rubber areas for extra grip on wet rock.
That stiffer sole gets a grade from B0 to B3-B0 and below, making them fine for casual summer hikes, but too flexible for crampons. Meanwhile, B1-3 boots offer increasing levels of stiffness to accommodate increasingly technical rigid crampon use.
This might sound excessive for the causal walker, but if you’re hill walking in the UK winter, opting for a stiffer crampon-compatible walking boot is highly recommended, as conditions can change fast.
What are the most popular hiking boot technologies?
Outdoor tech has come a long way in recent years, with huge strides being made in the way hiking boots are designed and built. From tech geared to keep your toes warm in sub-zero conditions, to innovations that help you stay upright on the most treacherous and slippery trails. These are:
- Vibram Megagrip (enhanced traction)
- Gore-tex (improved waterproofing)
- NestFit (bio-mapping for comfort)
- Thermo Tech Application technology (better support)
- CleanSport NXT (odour control)
Choosing the best hiking boots for you
In a nutshell, you're looking for boots that are luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in their ruggedness, and offer as much grip as Spider-Man's socks.
It’s essential to get the right rating for your hiking boot – wearing B3 double-boots for summer trekking will be hell, as will attempting the likes of Indicator Wall in Converse. Overall, you’re looking for ankle support from a boot – which in the hills can be vital when a stone shifts underfoot – but also a comfortable fit.
A snug (not tight) fit minimises heel lift, as well as assorted blisters at ‘hot spots’ like heels and toes. When seeking out winter boots (B1+) this is particularly important, as a loose fit will see your toes smash into the toe box when using crampons, and the stiffer sole will also exaggerate heel lift unless the heel pocket fits just right.
The accepted wisdom is to try on hiking boots in the afternoons, once your feet have expanded, and take a range of socks to try them on with. Thin office socks are helpful to show up any obvious shape mismatches and pressure points, before moving on to your preferred walking sock.
Do experiment with sock fit as well as boot fit, as even the most expensive socks are cheap compared to boots, and some of the more specialised socks can make a real difference to your hiking comfort.
Hiking boots come in different weights. Generally speaking, any weighing 400-500g and under are best suited to speed hiking, trail running (some types, not all) or day to day offroad use. Dog walkers and fairweather hikers, you'll like these ones.
Hiking boots that are tough enough to withstand multi-day hikes, where you might be carrying a heavy load on your back, are usually heavier. The trade-off for that extra weight is that these types of technical boots are much more supportive.
Is the type of hiking boot material important?
Construction-wise, old-school full leather hiking boots are rare beasts these days, not only because of cost but also because they need months of ‘breaking in’ before extended use. Modern boots use a range of synthetic materials in addition to leather panels, so are much softer out of the box.
Indeed, the latest thermo-fitted/NestFit models are pretty much ready to rock straight off the shop floor, although wearing around the house or to and from work is always a good idea before leaving on a major expedition.
In short, the golden rule is to buy what fits, and a model that suits your main use. In terms of brands, at the more robust end of the spectrum La Sportiva, Scarpa, Mammut, Lowa and Aku all build boots that will shame a tank, while at the lighter, summery end Teva, Keen and Salomon bring considerable expertise to the table.
The best hiking boots you can buy right now
1. Salomon Men's Quest 4D 3 GTX
Show the mountains who’s boss with these best hiking boots for all terrains
Reasons to buy
Winner of the T3 Awards 2019 for Best Hiking Boots, the waterproof Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX (Gore-Tex) will see you over any mountain pass, powering you onwards in sheer comfort come rain or shine.
They’re a backpackers dream too, supporting you under heavy pack loads, and are designed to fully cradle and support your foot and ankle with each step. Foot fatigue is reduced, which is a boon on longer, heftier walking days, and the EnergyCell EVA midsole helps to reduce shock impact.
Though they’re fully robust, the Quest 4D 3 GTX aren’t as heavy as you’d think and are breathable enough to be worn during the warmer months whenever you need full support. The Contragrip sole with deep lug pattern dishes out mega traction on mixed terrain, boosting your confidence to tackle harder trails that may have previously felt out of reach.
SensiFit tech provides a secure fit by cradling your foot from the midsole through to the Lace Locker lacing system, while a gusseted tongue stops debris and small stones from sneaking into your boots. Wear your Quest 4D 3 GTX’s with a pair of proper hiking socks and get out on the trail. They’ll have your back each step of the way.
Check out more of this year's award winners on our main T3 Awards 2019 page.
2. AKU Trekker Pro GTX
The best hiking boots for long days walking over mixed terrain
Reasons to buy
The AKU Trekker Pro isn't the lightest boot here but it is a very robust option. The leather and synthetic upper strikes a beautiful balance between durability and breathability, with a Gore-Tex liner ensuring a high level of water-resistance.
Support from the relatively stiff midsole and high cuff is excellent, and the traditional tongue and lacing are welcome too. An outsole of Vibram Curcuma dishes out grip in all the right places, exactly when you need it.
This high-tech hiking boot features AKU’s proprietary Elica Natural Stride System technology, designed to enhance ‘bio-dynamic performance’. In plain English, that should make longer days on the trail much easier on your legs. That very same tech works to distribute weight more evenly through the foot too.
We don't often pay too much attention to the way a hiking boot looks – after all, if it's waterproof, supportive, protective and well-fitting, who really cares what it looks like? – but the Trekker Pro is easily one of the most stylish new boots we've seen this year.
Ultimately, if you want a reliable hiking boot to see you through spring and summer hiking, and well into autumn and beyond, you won't go wrong with this one.
3. Hanwag Ferrata II GTX
This beastly technical boot dominates alpine adventuring of all kinds
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Hanwag Ferrata II is a secret badass. Superlight, super stiff and very sticky, goes everywhere and do anything. From alpine hikes to climbing, Via Ferrata routes to scrambling, this is a beefy boot for the modern adventurer.
The basic recipe here puts protection at the top of the list, mainly via blending polyamide and polyurethane fabric with leather, and introducing Hanwag’s TubeTec technology.
Essentially TubeTec is an extremely cushioned PU midsole material, protected with a tube of TPU, that results in a rugged yet lightweight midsole that cuts weight without sacrificing comfort.
Click clamp eyelets enable two-zone lacing, something you’ll be glad of on long days switching between ascent and descent, while a high cuff keeps your foot locked in, reducing heel lift and abrasion.
There’s even a heel welt for semi-auto crampons, plus a Gore-Tex membrane and a Vibram sole. In short, the Hanwag is a serious mountain boot that will make enjoyable work of your climbs.
4. La Sportiva Stream GTX
Fast and light hikers sporting Gore-Tex Surround breathable tech
Reasons to buy
A fast and light hiking boot for those sun-soaked European breaks, the La Sportiva Stream GTX won’t weigh you down. Designed to be highly breathable with an abrasion-resistant mesh outer, yet waterproof with a Gore-Tex inner, the Stream GTX is for built for hiking fast and light in good conditions.
That fast and light ethos is taken to great lengths, with La Sportiva even incorporating aeration channels (Gore-Tex Surround tech) into the midsole to augment the breathable upper. This hiking boot is all about keeping your feet comfortable when you're powering along the trail.
There’s a Vibram sole for grip, and stability control systems baked in, so the total package is more than capable of dealing with rough stuff in a hurry.
5. Teva Arrowood Riva Mid
These hiking boots might look retro but the tech is anything but
Reasons to buy
An updated take on the classic walking boot, the Teva Arrowood is a surprise entrant here, and boasting a highly robust full-grain leather upper and Vibram soles, this is the 4x4 of walking boots.
Less visible is the eVent membrane inside the upper, a highly breathable but waterproof layer that’ll keep water out but allow sweat out, and nylon shanks to stabilise your feet on rough ground and add stiffness on more challenging terrain. EVA midsoles and polyurethane footbeds round out the package.
6. Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi
Super-funky hiking boots that are big on comfort
Reasons to buy
The Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi brings six years of running heritage to the hiking world in a highly technical package. Likely to be popular with the speedier end of the hiking community (Hoka One One athletes are regulars at the UTMB mountain ultramarathon), these are some serious boots.
Outsoles of Vibram MegaGrip with 5mm lugs are a statement of intent, while the company's Meta-Rocker geometry and midsole blend of EVA and RMAT material delivers underfoot comfort in spades.
Looks-wise they're definitely on the chunkier side, so keep that in mind if you prefer a narrower profile hiking boot. However, they're lighter than many boots in this guide so won't weigh you down.
7. Tecnica Forge
The best hiking boots for blister-free walking
Reasons to buy
The Tecnica Forge brings a little something special to the usual footwear mix. In short, it's a solid enough three-season walking boot, but with ski-boot technology in the sole and heel area that's thermo-formed to your feet using heaters and huge inflatable bags.
The result of all that effort is well worth it, with these hiking boots being moulded precisely to your feet. With a deeper heel pocket than normal, there's little heel lift either.
A wrap-around overlap cuff instead of traditional tongue also minimises potential chafing. Blister free walking with no breaking is here - and very welcome it is too.
8. Scarpa Manta Pro GTX
Trusted hiking boots to power you through every season
Reasons to buy
The latest iteration of the genuine classic Scarpa Manta boot, the Scarpa Manta Pro is arguably the best hiking boot for four-season use on the market. It has been the benchmark four-season UK hiking boot for many years, so if you’re planning a walk involving any of the UK’s mountain terrain, these should be top of your list.
Fully crampon compatible (rated B2), this newest iteration brings improved impact absorption via a TPU crampon plate and PU shock absorbing insert, plus enhanced ankle support from Autofit Collar and Speed Lacing.
In addition, they offer improved distance walking comfort thanks to more progressive flex in the Pro-Fibre XT 20 midsole. In short, these are the hiking boots you need for when the going gets a little tougher.
9. Mammut Ayako High GTX
The best hiking boots for traversing difficult terrain
Reasons to buy
Very much at the technical end of the spectrum, the Ayako High GTX is designed to perform brilliantly as a summer mountain/scrambling/via ferrata boot, but those attributes make for an excellent hiking boot too.
Protective of the ankle and stiff enough for mountain travel, but prehensile enough to feel and grip rock and scree, these are the pros choice.
Mammut’s ‘three zone lacing’ pulls the heel into the rear of the boot, minimising the dreaded heel lift, as well as giving the toes room to breathe.
Memory foam on the high cut ankle makes for a snug fit, while the ‘climbing zone’ on the sole of the toe provides more grip where you need it most.
10. Lowa Renegade Mid
Leather boots built for racking up the miles, but break them in first
Reasons to buy
If you’re going on a long walk, comfort is, of course, a big concern. The Salomon boots featured above are hardly uncomfortable of course, but the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot really pushes the boat out when it comes to keeping you hygge.
The boot is incredibly soft with plenty of movement in the toes, but the leather outer is both striking in appearance and long-lasting in nature, but doesn’t take too long to break in
Although it's not ideal for rough and rocky terrain, the Renegade GTX is a great choice for clocking up miles across hills and dales.
11. TOG24 Whernside Waterproof Boots
Best for updated old-school hiking boot style
Reasons to buy
Intended as an upgrade on the classic walking and hiking boot, the TOG24 Whernside is all business on the trail. This isn’t a hugely technical boot, but it's supportive and very comfortable.
A suede and leather upper will break in quickly and mould to your foot shape (just like the good old days), while a built-in waterproof membrane keeps damp at bay.
A wicking lining is there to help internal dampness levels, with an EVA heel cup taking care of stability as well as boosting comfort. Finally, a Vibram outsole with a deep-cut traditional tread will handle the rough stuff along with the smooth.
For a sub-£100 price point there are always compromises, but here you’re getting a very solid package for the cash - ideal for light summer/autumn hikes across the moors and downs. For steeper, more technical terrain you’ll be wanting a more technical beast, though.
12. Keen Galleo Mid Boot
The best hiking boots for those on a budget
Reasons to buy
If you are a keen hill climber, then the Keen Galleo (figaro, magnifico!), will serve you well. Its PU heel cushion and EVA foam foot bed make them good for comfort and shock-absorbing when going uphill; and the rubber toe protects the feet when walking downhill.
If some of the classic Gore-Tex and Vibram soled boots are slightly out of your price range, this could be the best men’s hiking boot alternative for you, as the sole and waterproofing technologies are designed in-house by Keen, helping to shave a few quid off the price.
The final word:
As with all types of outdoor gear, you get what you pay for. The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX takes our best hiking boots crown because they offer a superb fit, with zero break-in time, and can be worn on everything from day hikes to multi-day backpacking excursions.
If you're looking for something not quite as extreme as a hiking boot, check out T3's selection of the best walking shoes. Walking shoes are lighter and more comfortable than boots, but don't provide as much support.
About the author...
Mark Mayne is an outdoors journalist who specialises in camping, hiking and diving.
Damian Hall is an outdoors journalist, ultrarunner and walking expert who has authored books on the subject.